This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by SIDHARTHA NAMBURI. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Students Organise Biggest Protest BITS Has Ever Seen, Admin Finally Responds Positively


For the last week, thousands of my fellow college mates at Birla Institute of Technology and Science campuses – Pilani, Hyderabad and Goa have been protesting against an exorbitant 15% fee hike.

The tuition fee has constantly been rising. Back in 2009, it was Rs.40,000 per semester, and now the incoming batch of 2018 is expected to pay Rs.1,59,500 per semester.

Recently, we studied the annual reports of the last eight years. For the first two years, the fee hike was justified to cover losses, and later for expansion. At the beginning of 2017, an online petition was circulated across three campuses and addressed to the institute to communicate the students’ concerns regarding the fee hike. Alas, it wasn’t taken seriously by the institute.

In August 2017, after some research on the annual reports that were available, I filed an RTI to get complete information about the annual reports and finances. The institute responded saying that private universities don’t come under the purview of RTI quoting the judgement given by Karnataka High Court on the case with Manipal University.

To confirm this, I spoke with a former Chief Information Commissioner, and he said that any university that receives even a nominal amount of financial aid from the government is bound to come under the purview of RTI. Following this, I had filed an appeal to the UGC against the institute which would compel the university to furnish the requisite information. This appeal was redirected to “Carlox Teacher’s University Ahmedabad “. This happened twice and the whole process wasted three months of my valuable time.

The Protests

On May 6, 2018, in response to the notification announcing the fee structure for the incoming batch of 2018, a gathering was scheduled by the SU where the Director was to address our queries. The demands of the protest were simple and clear – a rollback of the fee hike and no negotiations on the matter.

Even though it was the week of the final exams, students rallied resiliently for the cause. The protest was organised by the Students’ Union of the college and was scheduled to start at 11 am in the auditorium of BITS Pilani. There were more than 2500 students who filled the auditorium and conveyed their support for the protest.

This enthusiasm, zeal showed by the students for what’s right in Pilani inspired the sister campuses in Goa and Hyderabad to organise a similar protest against the hike. It has been the biggest organised protest in the 62 years of the University’s history. Students gathered in massive numbers and extended their presence and solidarity to social media. They took Twitter by storm and managed to push ‘#RollBackBITSPilaniFeeHike’ to the top of the trending list on Twitter India.

The protest soon gained popularity, and support poured in from various alumni of the college as well as from famous journalists and politicians. The director met all of us to address our grievances. The student representatives were sharp in making their points, and the director answered their queries and understood the issue at hand.

However, the meeting was not conclusive, and the students moved to speak to the Vice Chancellor of BITS. The VC rushed to campus from Delhi cancelling all his other appointments. However, when he met the students, there was no definitive response given. As of now, there’s no surety on the matter, and the students are urging the Chancellor – Mr KM Birla, to issue a statement.

The students who’ve been protesting have stuck to the Gandhian principle of ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) and kept their calm, no matter how high the tensions have risen. The protest continued to its second day in the scorching heat and through the final exams. Students have been sitting on the roads and the auditorium for extended periods of time to show their support, and many were seen sitting with books studying under the streetlights or using the torchlight on their mobile phones. The importance given to peaceful protest is commendable and is one of the main reasons for the massive online support it has gathered.

As of Day 3, we had launched an initiative called #ChangeForAChange wherein students gathered outside the Vice Chancellor’s office in a queue and put coins in a bowl. The coins were a symbol of change conveying that we can’t contribute any more than this, in case you are really going ahead with the fee hike.

In the evening, we marched with lights across the campus to get the attention of our Chancellor, KM Birla and the social media campaign #BirlaJiSpeakUp was set to motion. The march saw a participation of over 800 people who were marching with their phone torches on while the directors of the four campuses had a meet with the BITSAA (BITS’ Alumni Association).

The institution is now taking positive steps to address the issue. The administration has announced that they will be withholding the due slips/fee slips for the next semester until they arrive at a consensus with the students.


Image source: Sai Ram Krishna Gilakamsetti, Aayush Agarwal/Facebook
You must be to comment.


Similar Posts

By Arun Kr Jaiswal

By Amrita

By Mohit Nimal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below